More than a Lucky Charm

Normally, I hear her sprint across the house around 3 or so in the morning, and I open my eyes into the darkness and ask my daughter, “What do you need, baby?”

Most nights, it’s something to drink.  Or perhaps her blanket had fallen off the bed or somehow ended up scrunched up and tangled in a mesh of other blankets in the night.  So, she needs me to embark on a kind of “Blanket Recovery Mission.”

I plod along after her into the darkness, filling the cup, finding the blanket, and tucking her back into bed.

But last night she dashed across the house in the darkness and climbed right up into my arms.  When I asked her what she needed, her eyes flickered open for the briefest moment.

She whispered, “I need Mom” and then fell asleep.

My little one needed me for me, not for what I could do or provide, find or fill, but for my presence and love and the safety of that relationship.

It’s so hard to say when it’s easiest to start taking our relationship with Mighty God for granted.

Perhaps it’s when times are hardest and our conversations with Him can become an endless litany of our need and pleas for His help and intervention.  We too often want Him only for what He can do for us.

We need that job, that financial deliverance, that health, that relationship, that restoration, that guidance, that intervention, that advocacy, that victory.  Maybe we even search the Scriptures filtering out everything that doesn’t seem to fit or speak to our particular circumstance or situation.

Or perhaps we value this time with Him the least when everything is going well and we have our needs taken care of, so we have very little to say to Him besides an occasional, “thanks, God.”

Yet, while God always invites us to bring our requests and needs to His feet, surely the desire of His God-heart isn’t that we only ever ask for the drink of water or the blanket in the middle of the night.

He wants us to sit at His feet and say, “I need You, God.”482075_10151336449620893_1263122976_n

I need Your provision, yes.  Your strength.  Your help and wisdom.  All those things.

But even beyond anything You can do for me….I simply need You.  “I need Thee every hour…every hour I need Thee.”

And this is the simple truth of this life: That we need Him like breath and food and water, the very life-sources of this physical body.

Perhaps you forget this like I do at times:  Taking Him for granted….forgetting my dependency and trying to act all foolishly independent.

Like the Israelites in 1 Samuel 4, sometimes we treat God as little more than a good-luck charm that we slip out of our pocket on test days for a little extra help and good fortune.

God had promised to be with His people, deliver them, protect them from their enemies, and provide them with abundant harvests and a life of plenty…IF they obeyed Him and stayed faithful to Him.

They, of course, had wandered and strayed, disobeyed and worshiped other gods.

But when they faced a vast army of enemy Philistines, Israel was quick with a solution:

Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.” (1 Samuel 4:3b NLT).

They didn’t revere the Ark of the Covenant as the earthy dwelling place of God’s glory and they didn’t begin by repenting of all the sin that had driven them to this place of near-defeat.

To them, it was a rabbit’s foot, a pair of lucky socks, a token or totem, no different than the idols of rocks and stone carried around by the enemy.  So, they decided to drag the Ark out and carry it into battle, assuming that God would take it from there, carry the day, and fight on their behalf.

Even the Philistines revered God more in that moment.  They were terrified by news of the Ark’s arrival, knowing full well that if the One True God decided to fight that day, they had no chance of defeating the rag-tag Israelites.  The enemy knew of this God by His reputation–the Deliverer from Egypt and the God of the Plagues.

Yet, God, doesn’t allow Himself to be used and abused like that—not then, not now.  The Israelites lost the battle and the Philistines carried off the Ark like a war-prize, not because God couldn’t defend His people.  Because His people forgot that they needed Him, all the time, every day.

They forgot.

Today we remember to pray: God, I need You and You alone, not for any thing, but for who You are.  You are all I need.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: How to Handle a Mean Girl

Originally posted on September 26, 2011

Mean girls strike fear into the hearts of moms everywhere.  They certainly make this momma drop to her knees.

So when my daughter announced that she was choosing not to play with a girl at her school table, I pounced with mom questions.

“Well,” my daughter said, “when other people don’t do things the way she wants, she always says, ‘You can’t be my friend anymore.’  So, I told her that’s okay if she doesn’t want to be friends with me.”

Wow!  I was afraid of permanent devastation wrought at the hands of other children, and yet my daughter handled herself with quiet confidence.  It was the kind of answer I’ve been praying my daughter is able to give.

Praise God that He answers our prayers for our children.

But, it’s not just our kids who need to make decisions about friends, nay-sayers, judgers, and mockers.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper writes:

“I want to recognize the dangerous, potentially biting characters in my story; the people who create constant emotional debris with their destructive personalities or who refuse to shed the skin of deception, the ones who threaten the God-with-me peace in my life.  I’m learning to keep my distance and to  pray for snakes, but not make a habit of getting down in the dirt to play with them” (p. 47).

In our lives, we’ll face some biting personalities and snakes in the grass ourselves–even when we are simply pursuing righteousness, just like Hannah in 1 Samuel.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Religious law dictated that men must travel to the tabernacle three times a year to worship and sacrifice, but we see in 1 Samuel 1:7 that “year by year, she went up to the house of the Lord.”  She committed to going above and beyond the minimum requirements in order to worship God with her whole heart.

But his Godly woman had a personal pain that cut deep: She was childless while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was a bunny rabbit of a breeder.  Scripture doesn’t even count all her kids; it just says, “Peninnah . . and  . . . all her sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 1:4).  Sounds like quite a brood.

The worst part of it is that Peninnah gloated.  She boasted and preened.  She set herself up as Hannah’s rival and “provoked her severely, to make her miserable”  (1 Samuel 1:6).

Peninnah was a mean girl.

Sure, Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, loved her and was sad about her distress.  Still, there’s something kind of clueless about his compassion.

He said, “Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

Seriously?  He didn’t tell Peninnah to knock off the nastiness.  Instead, he told Hannah just to get over it. Be happy with the fact that she shared a home and husband with a woman who had annual baby showers.  Just shrug off Peninnah’s provoking ways and be content with her husband’s love.

Elkanah was an unhelpful friend.  He didn’t stand up for Hannah, didn’t have her back, and didn’t understand her pain.

Then there was Eli, the priest who watched Hannah’s impassioned prayer at the altar.  He pounced on her in a second, saying, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” (1 Samuel 1:14).

Eli was the judgmental onlooker.  The one with all the opinions who doesn’t even take time to fully understand the situation, just makes accusations and spews forth a diatribe of assumptions and personal attacks.

Beset on every side by those close to her and those in spiritual authority over her, Hannah nevertheless responded with grace.

She spoke “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). She didn’t rebel against Eli, speak badly about him behind his back, or cause a ruckus in the spiritual community, despite the fact that he hurt her.  Instead, she answered calmly, “No, my lord.  I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15).

She trusted God to take care of her.  Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10).  She took all of her pain to the altar and poured her soul out before God and left it in His hands.

After she held the baby boy God gave her, after she nursed him and weaned him and presented him to the tabernacle, she declared, “For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 1:3).

By Him actions are weighed.  God saw the mocking cruelty of Peninnah, the cluelessness of Elkanah, and the pompousness of Eli.  And he saw Hannah’s brokenness and blessed her.

We likewise can trust God to help us when we face mean girls, unhelpful friends, and those who judge us.  He will show us how to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us and He will tell us how to avoid the venomous bites of the snakes in the grass.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

I’ll Wait For the 7:30

Today, I am tired.

And it shows.  Words seem tricky and hard to maneuver, elusive and even a little mocking as they play hide and seek in my mind.  This morning with my kids, I would snap my fingers and squint my eyes trying to think—“What’s that word . .  what’s that word again . . oh, yeah, shoes.  Yes, put your shoes on.”

The trouble started just a few weeks ago when my toddler appeared by my bedside at 6:00 a.m. and announced it was morning and time to get up for the day.

Now, many of you are routinely early risers and prefer waking in the darkness and sipping hot coffee leisurely over your devotions before heading out for your morning commute.

At our house, however, morning begins at 7:00 a.m. So, when my early riser appeared another morning at 5:45, I mumbled, “It’s still night time.”

“No, it’s morning,” she answered and pointed out the window to the few glimmers of sunlight visible through the blinds.

Unwilling to give in, I explained, “You really need more sleep.”

With a simple, “I’m awake,” she bounced out of my room ready for cheerful activity while I shuffled behind her like a zombie.

What my toddler doesn’t understand is that waking me too early in the day ultimately short-changes her.  I’m a happier, more cheerful, more productive, more energetic, more playful mommy when we all agree to sleep until 7 a.m.

Impatience typically has a way of short-changing all of us.  We miss out on God’s best because we’re not willing to wait for it, settling instead for whatever barely acceptable option presents itself.

Or, while we wait we make it clear that we hate this.  We hate the unknown of it all, the required patience, the uncertainty, the lack of control, and the destruction of our own agenda.  We whine.  We nag.  We grumble and complain.  We envy others who already have that ministry, that relationship, that job, that child, that clear direction, that future.

It’s as if we pop up to the throne at 5:45 and announce, “It’s time!  I’m awake. Let’s get going.”  God’s plan, however, is to present us with His 7:30 best.

In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel wanted something from God. Following the leadership of Moses and Joshua, a series of judges had led the nation and delivered them from the perpetual persecution of the Philistines and other surrounding enemies.

This era of judges ended with Samuel the prophet, who led the people to rededicate themselves to God.  When he tried to pass the baton of authority to his sons, however, the people quickly complained:  “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 ESV).

The people didn’t trust God’s ability to choose their rulers and they were no longer willing to wait for Gideons and Samsons and Deborahs to deliver them, to direct them spiritually, to lead them into battle or to arbitrate their disagreements.

They wanted what other nations had—-assured succession and an inherited throne.  Not only that, they wanted it at 5:45 and they weren’t willing to wait until 7:30.

In her book, A Heart Like His, Beth Moore writes:

“God had already planned a king for the people.  Their lack of patience was to cost them dearly.  If they had waited for the Lord’s choice instead of demanding their way, how different might the story have been?” (pp. 32-33).

God’s design for a Messianic line and for an eternal kingship to emerge from the tribe of Judah and through the house of David required the king of God’s choosing at the time of God’s choosing.

Instead, the people wanted a king and they wanted one NOW. So they settled for Saul.

Then, years later, unwilling to wait for Samuel to offer a promised sacrifice on the eve of battle—full of as much impatience as the nation that had demanded a king in the first place--Saul did the unthinkable.  He, a king and not an anointed priest, sacrificed to God.  That cost him his reign.

Thus, Samuel traveled to a man named Jesse’s house and anointed a ruddy and handsome young shepherd to be God’s chosen king.  Indeed:

He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
from following the nursing ewes he brought him
    to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand (Psalm 78:70-72).

God wanted a shepherd to shepherd His people, just as He later chose fishermen to become fishers of men. 

That was God’s best.

God’s best was a man who would write:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation (Psalm 62:1, ESV).

The Message version says:

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul (Psalm 62:1-2, MSG).

Unlike the impatient nation of Israel demanding a king like other nations had …
Unlike Saul impatiently giving up on the tardy Samuel and offering a sacrifice on his own …

David waited for God, waited in silence, waited as long as God saidIf we want God’s very best for us, we must do the same.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King



How to Handle a Mean Girl

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s devotional will match up with her fourth chapter: “No Fangs Allowed.”

***********************************************************

Mean girls strike fear into the hearts of moms everywhere.  They certainly make this momma drop to her knees.

I’ve begun praying once a week with some other moms for our kids and their school.  As we’ve prayed together, I’ve discovered that we moms share the same concerns for our kids.  We pray for their academics, sure, but mostly we pray for their hearts.

We pray they will be a light in dark places and that they will choose good friends.  We ask that our kids will not be too sensitive and will know how to respond in tough situations.

So when my daughter announced this weekend that there was a girl at her school table that she chose not to play with, I pounced with my mom questions.

“Well,” my daughter said, “when other people don’t do things the way she wants, she always says, ‘You can’t be my friend anymore.’  So, I told her that’s okay if she doesn’t want to be friends with me.”

Wow!  Here I was afraid of permanent devastation wrought at the hands of other children and my daughter handled this with calm grace and confidence. She knew that friendship is too valuable to use as manipulative weaponry in the social arsenal.

It was the kind of answer I’ve been praying my daughter is able to give.  Praise God that He answers our prayers for our children.

But, it’s not just our kids who need to make decisions about whom to befriend or how to answer detractors, nay-sayers, judgers, and mockers.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper writes:

“I want to recognize the dangerous, potentially biting characters in my story; the people who create constant emotional debris with their destructive personalities or who refuse to shed the skin of deception, the ones who threaten the God-with-me peace in my life.  I’m learning to keep my distance and to  pray for snakes, but not make a habit of getting down in the dirt to play with them” (p. 47).

In our lives, we’ll face some biting personalities and snakes in the grass ourselves–even when we are simply pursuing righteousness, just like Hannah did in 1 Samuel.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Religious law dictated that men must travel to the tabernacle three times a year to worship and sacrifice, but we see in 1 Samuel 1:7 that “year by year, she went up to the house of the Lord.”  She committed to going above and beyond the minimum requirements in order to worship God with her whole heart.

But, this Godly woman had a struggle, a personal pain that cut deep.  She was childless while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was a bunny rabbit of a breeder.  Scripture doesn’t even count all her kids; it just says, “Peninnah . . and  . . . all her sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 1:4).  Sounds like quite a brood.

The worst part of it is, that Peninnah gloated.  She boasted and preened.  She set herself up as Hannah’s rival and “provoked her severely, to make her miserable”  (1 Samuel 1:6).

Peninnah was a mean girl.

But it wasn’t just Peninnah who was the problem.  There was also Hannah’s husband, Elkanah.  He truly loved Hannah and he was sad about her distress.

Still, there’s something kind of clueless about Elkanah’s compassion.  He said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

Seriously?  He didn’t tell Peninnah to knock off the nastiness.  Instead, he told Hannah, the innocent one, to just get over it. Just be happy with the fact that she shared a home and husband with a woman who had annual baby showers when she herself could not get pregnant.  Just shrug off Peninnah’s provoking ways and be happy with her husband’s love.

Elkanah was an unhelpful friend.  He didn’t stand up for Hannah, didn’t have her back, and wasn’t concerned with the true depth of her pain.

Then there was Eli, the priest who watched Hannah’s impassioned prayer at the altar.  He pounced on her in a second, saying, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” (1 Samuel 1:14).

Eli was the judgmental onlooker.  The one with all the opinions who doesn’t even take time to fully understand the situation, just makes accusations and spews forth a diatribe of assumptions and personal attacks.

Beset on every side by those close to her and those in spiritual authority over her, Hannah nevertheless responded with grace.

She spoke “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). She didn’t rebel against Eli, speak badly about him behind his back, or cause a ruckus in the spiritual community, despite the fact that he hurt her.  Instead, she answered and said, “No, my lord.  I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15).

She trusted God to take care of her.  Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10).  She took all of her pain to the altar and poured her soul out before God.

And after she held the baby boy God gave her, after she nursed him and weaned him and presented him to the tabernacle, she declared, “Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 1:3).

By Him actions are weighed.  God saw Peninnah in her meanness, Elkanah in his cluelessness, Eli in his pompousness and Hannah in her brokenness.  Hannah placed the entire situation in God’s hands and trusted in His ability to judge and to bless.

We likewise can trust God to help us when we face mean girls, unhelpful friends, and those who judge us.  He will help us know how to love our enemies, pray for those who hurt us, and turn the other cheek, and yet all the while protect us from the venomous bite that comes from stepping too close to the snakes in the grass.

Want to learn more about praying for your kids and their school?  Check out Moms In Touch International.  There are groups of moms, grandmas, and school staff internationally who meet once a week for one hour to pray for our children. You can find a group in your area by searching their website.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King